Even after one year of flash floods, nothing seems to have changed when it comes to removing encroachments along the Tawi in Jammu.
During September-2014 flash floods, several residential colonies constructed illegally along the river bank were damaged. The administration had promised to stop such activity. Between September 3 and 6, 2014, heavy rainfall had led to massive flooding in the Tawi, which breached its banks and devastated several areas. Most of them were built in an illegal way during the last two decades when Jammu saw massive expansion due to influx of lakhs of people seeking refuge due to rise of insurgency in Kashmir.
The blatant violation of the Master Plan is with the active help of influential persons having close political links. So every effort made to stop the violation has been thwarted. On the banks of the Tawi near Bhagwati Nagar, Gujjar Nagar, Gorkha Nagar and Sidhra, several hundred structures are being raised.
“One can notice the innumerable newly raised concrete structures on that side of the Tawi, while the government is sleeping over the issue,” said Sameer Sharma, a government teacher.
The land along the fourth bridge, a portion of which got washed away last year, had become a haven for the unauthorised colonisers. In the past few years, houses and shopping complexes have come up on the river banks. “We don’t see any effort to stop violators and you can see open defiance by the people who are being settled deliberately. There should have been a campaign against them to save the city,” said Rohit Sharma, a university student.
During the past one decade, encroachment has taken place in a planned manner under the very nose of the administration. The Jammu Development Authority (JDA) is already fighting a losing battle to retrieve its land from encroachers.
Officials of the Municipal Corporation and Divisional Commissioner were not available for comments as they are involved in the relief efforts, but it has exposed the faulty policies which has encouraged unlawful activities along the banks of rivers and rivulets in the entire Jammu region.
Joint Commissioner (Administration), Municipal Corporation, RS Jamwal, while accepting that colonies have come up without any plan, said a sustained campaign with political will was needed. “People are now settled there and they cannot be evicted in one day. We have taken up measures so that action is taken against property dealers. People have to be shifted to some alternative place, which is a slow process,” said Jamwal.
Despite claims made by the government about acting against such constructions established on encroached land, which have mushroomed in the city during the past two decades, the Jammu Development Authority and Municipal Corporation are not showing keenness to act.